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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Avoiding Virtual World Mistakes

A group of avatars in a corporate virtual world wondering what is going on?

Organizations seem to rush into virtual worlds with little planning or forethought and then wonder why their virtual world experience was a failure. In fact, according to the technology analyst firm Gartner, nine out of 10 virtual world projects fail within 18 months. I am not surprised. Like any initiative, a plan and purpose is needed to make the venture work. If you are just in it because everyone else is "in-world" or you think it might be neat, then you are in it for the wrong reasons.

Here is a great article highlighting some "lessons learned" for creating a successful virtual world presence called Corporate virtual worlds implode at hyper speed

1) The transition from a traditional web presence to a virtual world presence marks the transition from webpages to web places and a successful virtual presence starts with people. If you don't have something for people to do or experience in an interactive way then people will not stay. These are social networks or experiential learning environments...a design set up so avatars can just loiter or hang out doesn't work. See my post Scripting a Virtual World Learning Event.

2)An effective virtual world project starts by focusing on the audience’s needs and ultimately delivering the technology to support the community of people. It doesn't start by focusing on the technology (no learning process should ever start that way...none.)

3) Realistic graphics and physical behaviour count for little unless the presence is valued by and engaging to the target audience. (which means some research is needed to determine if the target audience values or needs to be in a virtual world or if they are comfortable learning in that environment).
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2 comments:

Lidia Muircastle said...

Transition is the buzz word and as you state "The transition from a traditional..." Need we say more, because we have been here before. With each transition that affects learning environments whether it's teaching or training. Transition is always tougher to master especially if implementing the new development overshadows the end-users.

In you post "Scripting a Virtual World you note..."you need to tell them what to look for, what to do when they find a specific item and how that applies to what they should be learning." No truer words were spoken! Does anyone remember the confusion associated in the history of education with the "new" math, phonics, calculators, integration, and main streaming students with disabilities or dress codes. My mom simply could not understand how I could successfully learn anything in school dressed in pants!!!

Maybe we'll eventually learn from the past as teachers/trainers develop more effective virtual learning environments if not I must admit watching as the dust settles is quite fascinating.

Over fifty years ago Rudolf Flesch in his book "Why Johnny Can't Read" identified the "look and guess" method of teaching reading resulted in individual students who were frustrated and defeated. I guess some things never change but the pace seems a lot faster.

Ryan L. sittler said...

Hi Dr. Kapp... Ryan Sittler... anyway, I think the biggest detriment (sp?) to learning in a virtual world... is simply that it may not be an appropriate use of technology.

As you've said yourself, if we "only" were going to be using PPT slides in an online classroom setting... SL would not be an ideal place to do that. I can think of a lot of ways in which a virtual world is a completely appropriate use of technology for educating... and lots of ways in which it would be an epic fail.